Like many U.S. athletes competing in London this summer, Cassidy Krug dreamed of making the Olympic team before she’d even reached grade school. She remembers watching the gymnastics meet at the Seoul Olympics on TV as a 3-year-old and telling her mother, “I want to do that.”
Krug never did make that gymnastics team, but the former NCAA diving champ at Stanford will finally get a taste of Olympic competition Aug. 3 when she takes her first plunge off the 3-meter springboard in preliminaries.
As a child of two diving coaches, Krug, 27, grew up on the pool deck. In fact, she attended her first meet only one week after her birth. Although she dove regularly as a child, Krug’s passion was for gymnastics.
“She was encouraged to do what she wanted to do and there was no arm twisting at any time,” said Julian Krug, Cassidy’s father, the diving coach at the University of Pittsburgh. “We told her, ‘dive because you want to dive — not because we want you to dive, not because you want to fulfill either of our dreams.’”
Growing up, Krug was one of top gymnasts in the country in her age bracket. But at age 15, she switched her focus and won three Pennsylvania state diving titles by the end of high school.
Despite her talent, Krug wasn’t an Olympic-caliber diver when she started classes at Stanford in 2003.
“She came into the sport relatively late, so she didn’t have a lot of fine motor development,” said Rick Schavone, Stanford’s diving coach. “So, her freshman, sophomore and juniors years, she just kept getting better.”
But Krug peaked at the right time, winning NCAA titles on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards during her final year on the Farm. After graduation, she was the country’s top-ranked diver and a favorite to represent the U.S at the 2008 Beijing Games until she lost the feeling in her arms after herniating discs in her spine during the Olympic test event. The injury sidelined her for nine months leading into trials.
The rust showed at the U.S. trials as Krug finished eighth on the 3-meter springboard, losing her ticket to Beijing. Soon after, she retired from diving, taking a marketing job with the Stanford alumni association.
During that time, Krug would often have dinner with Schavone, but diving was never discussed. Then, after a year away from the pool, she called her former coach one day and asked: “Can we go to dinner and talk about that?”
“I just missed it and I was still getting better up until the day I stopped diving. I knew I’d never reached my potential,” Krug said.
In 2010, Krug started training with Schavone again, and, this time, she was diving her best leading into trials. With everything on the line, she won the 3-meter springboard by nailing all five of her final-round dives.
“Cassidy Krug could be the greatest women’s springboard diver of all time,” Schavone said. “So, I’m extremely excited about watching her at the games.”